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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Stay safe this Thanksgiving season with these food safety tips

(WYDaily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Thanksgiving is a big cooking holiday with the main course being the most labor intensive: the turkey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites food handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated food borne disease outbreaks in the United States.

They recommend these four food safety tips to help safely prepare your next holiday turkey meal.

  1. Safely thaw your turkey

The CDC recommends that you thaw your turkeys in the refrigerator, in a skin of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes or in the microwave.

They say to never thaw a turkey by leaving it out on the counter.

A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature.

When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe as it moves into the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can grow rapidly.

2. Safely handle your turkey

Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety – cook, clean, chill, and separate – to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food and family.

3. Safely stuff your turkey

Cooking stuffing in a casserole dish makes it easy to make sure it is thoroughly cooked.

If you put stuffing in the turkey, do so just before cooking.

Use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning.

Wait for 20 minutes after removing the bird from the oven before removing the stuffing from the turkey’s cavity; this allows it to cook a little more.

Learn more about how to prepare stuffing safely.

4. Safely cook your turkey

Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F.

Place the completely thawed turkey with the breast side up in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep.

Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey.

To make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F, check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint.

Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

Learn more about safe minimum cooking temperatures and how to use a food thermometer for turkey and other foods.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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